It's birthday party season for the children in my daughter's year one class.

All the little poppets in this class have their 'being born' days between

September and Christmas so at the moment, every weekend is a giddy social whirl of party dresses, gift wrapping and birthday cakes.

But all is not well in pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey land for a dark and sinister habit has formed and pervades 99 per cent of parties the little ones attend.

It's the dreaded PARTY BAGS!

Call me old fashioned, but I think birthday parties should be about celebrating the happy occasion with the birthday boy or girl - NOT about getting flipping party bags!

I think they should be banned!

There, I've said it.

I am boycotting the bags and I think everyone else should too.

Let's start a trend.

Children lucky enough to be invited to someone's party should learn that the occasion is not about them and the focus is on the birthday child.

Kids should be encouraged to partake in a simple act of generosity and help write a card then choose and wrap a gift for their little chum.

This small deed is a crucial lesson in ego management, kindness and learning the world doesn't revolve around them and their whims.

If the kiddies receive an invite to the party, then they should think themselves fortunate and if they get a piece of birthday cake to take home with them then they are extremely lucky and should be taught by the parents
to appreciate these things more.

Sadly, many parents set dreadful examples for their kids with their own get-what-you-can attitude and grabbing what ever they can take out of others.

And all too often, parents just opt to use the occasion to over indulge their own little princes and princesses yet again.

They are so concerned with being popular with their children that they can't say 'NO' and they are doing their children and themselves, a mammoth injustice.

Time and time again I have witnessed mothers in a toyshop choosing a birthday gift for another child when her own offspring kicks off and whines that, "It's not fair, I want a present too." So, what happens?

Invariably, the weak mother crumbles to the kid's demands and buys them a present too.

It's bonkers and makes for a rather unpleasant child in the long run.

Last year, at my daughter's 5th birthday party, a gaggle of ill mannered rug rats astonished me with their constant demands of, "Where's the party bags?"

There were parents present and most just stood like useless lemons, wearing simpering smiles and making ineffectual comments like: "Oh dear Tarquin,
that's a but rude."

But, none of them actually DID anything.

Not one kid was taken to one side and the talked to. Not only were the kids saying: "Where's
the party bag?"

But prior to opening the "pass the parcel", they wanted to know what present was in each layer.

EACH LAYER! Greedy little tykes!

Most of the time, party bags only contain rubbish.

Highly coloured sweets and plastic bits of toot that fall apart quickly and/or get stuck in the
vacuum (or the kid's throats)!

The alternative to the junk is even worse though.

Some party bags contain such extravagant toys that are more expensive than the present a child takes to the party!

I have even been to a party where every mini guest invited, came away with a wrapped present from the birthday child.

And at another party, two of the tiny attendees arrived together in a limo!

These are children of four and five years old! Am I the only person who thinks this is crazy?

So, from this moment on, I am going to boycott party bags.

Never again will I make them for any of my kid's parties.

I don't care how unpopular it makes me with the parents or the kids.

I am going to start a movement to reclaim
the lost innocence of birthday parties. Actually, the handful of parents I have already told of my plan have applauded me - so I know I am not alone in
my 'ban the bag' philosophy!

Ok rant over!


My friend who lives in Leigh on Sea in a road just off the Leigh road, was more than a little surprised a couple of weeks ago to receive a £50 fine
from Southend Council.

Her crime? Two bags of rubbish.

She'd gone to her mum's for the night and put her two bags of rubbish out the night before as she wouldn't have got back in time to get it out for the refuse collectors the following morning.

However, the trash inspectors must have been on the prowl because they spotted her bags and rummaged around until they found something that identified the owner.

Having IDd the culprit, they then wrote and fined her

I was so gob-smacked to learn that Southend Council employs people to go down people's bin bags that I telephoned to get to the bottom of the matter
and actually found their explanation makes a lot of sense.

It seems that litter is a real problem in the area and the council is trying really hard to remedy this by introducing Rubbishwatch.

"Rubbish Watch is a borough wide scheme to clean up our streets from black sacks and dumped rubbish.

This includes treating household rubbish put out
on non-collection days as an act of 'littering' for which a Fixed Penalty Notice can be issued.

"The scheme is to educate residents to keep household rubbish off the streets until morning of scheduled collection.

"The success of this scheme has had a significant impact in reducing black sack rubbish dumped on the streets and provided the opportunity to expand Rubbish Watch across the town.

"If residents are going away, they need to place rubbish on the edge of their property. As long as it is available for collection but not littering
the street you will not get a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice."

So be warned, putting your rubbish out early may seem like being organised but you run the risk of being fined.

Also, shred any evidence that identifies you - not to try to escape being identified by the council, but
to minimise the real danger of someone far more sinister, stealing your identity!


Thought I'd mention this as there are so many great events at Hadleigh Country Park and these Halloween experiences look like a lot of fun!

Friday 27th & Saturday 28th October

Beware Vampire Bats in these WoodsCome and join in on the Halloween fun at the country park.

Join the search in the woodlands for the spooky bats and
beware of the entire scary goings on, then collect your reward from the witch's cauldron.

£3 per Child

Suitable for ages 3 to 8 years

Meet: Chapel Lane car park.

Start anytime from 11am - 3.30pm.

Please come in costume

Sunday 29th October

Halloween Trail

Pick up a map and lead yourselves through the woods. Halloween hokum and spooky riddles to solve.

Collect a prize at the end. £3 per Child
Suitable for ages 3 to 8 years

Meet: Chapel Lane car park.

Start anytime from 11am - 3.30pm.

Please come in costume

For more information about events at hadleigh Country Park, please visit